The university and a local museum are in talks to explore ways to further community support for the museum.
Provost William Covino said that community members approached the university confidentially with concerns over the future and viability of the Fresno Art Museum. The museum’s board of trustees voted unanimously to open the discussion with Fresno State.
Covino said the current fiscal troubles that the university is experiencing would mean that any monetary support would have to come from private donors.
“We would not expect to use any state funding for the museum,” Covino said.
While the university would not be able to contribute money, the university’s community connections could be used to drum up private donations.
“We certainly have a great deal of much appreciated community support,” Covino said.
President John Welty formed a committee of Provost Covino; the Vice President for Advancement Peter Smits; Vice President for Administration Cindy Matson; and the Arts and Humanities dean Vida Samiian. The members will go through a four to six week exploration on how Fresno State and the museum can benefit one another.
Covino said the university does not have any space to put the museum on campus, so that would not be a possible outcome.
Tom Speck, the chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said the university has many resources that could lend support to the museum.
“They could help dramatically,” Speck said.
The possibilities, Speck said, could benefit the community, students, faculty and cultural arts in the region.
Speck said that the board is excited about the possible outcomes of the exploratory committee.
“Any help at all in these times, even if it’s not financial support, is helpful,” Speck said.
The arts and humanities department stands to benefit from the possible collaboration by creating new coursework in the museum and in curatorial studies and arts administration, dean Samiian said.
“The Fresno Art Museum is a treasure for Fresno and our entire Valley, and we at Fresno State are very interested in determining how it can be enhanced for the benefit of the community,” Samiian said.
Samiian said the opportunities that come from the exploration could grow and expand with greater involvement of the university.
Samaiin, a former member of the museum’s board, is not the only connection that Fresno State and the museum have. The museum has served as a venue for the College of Arts and Humanities Artists in Residence program, as well as a place for interns to serve.
The museum, located near Clinton Avenue and First Street in east-central Fresno, also participates in the Summer Arts program at Fresno State.